Advent marks the beginning of the traditional church year, a time set aside for anticipating the coming of Christ, both at the first Christmas and again in the future. The passages we read this season reflect this anticipation from the perspective of the Old Testament, and its fulfillment and future anticipation from the New Testament.
Read 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.
Do not quench the Spirit. Do not treat prophecies with contempt but test them all; hold on to what is good, reject every kind of evil.
May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.
Paul, Silas, and Timothy close this letter with some sharp commands to the church, including to "rejoice always." I wonder if all the commands that follow give us clues as to how to be obedient to this first challenge. What do you think? Might praying, gratitude, and staying in tune with the Spirit all help you to experience more of God's joy?
Augustine said that "a Christian should be a hallelujah from head to foot." Is this true of you? Why or why not? What might you do to increase your joy today?